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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

The Greek Papyri                        255
tlon disappeared or changed almost out of recognition in the
new empires of Alexander's successors, their educationólitera-
ture and the gymnasiumóremained. In provincial Egypt, at
any rate, no attempt was made to keep the race pure; to be a
Greek soon meant to speak Greek and to have had a Greek
education. Hence it is no accident that so many literary papyri
have been recovered from Egypt. The oldest papyrns yet found
in Egypt is that of the Psrsae of Timorheus, and that a work
so exotic and sophisticated should have corne from the earliest
period of the Greek occupation is significant of the endless
variety of the literary texts. Not only is every branch of Greek
literature from Homer and Hesiod down past the lyric poets
and satirists, the Old and the New Comedy to the novelists and
the Christian Fathers, represented by fragments however small,
but there is scarcely an author of whom we can assuredly say
that he was not read in Egypt. The greatest of these discoveries
have now taken their place in the ranks of Greek literature, and
are no more the preserve of the papyrologist. First among them
is perhaps the codex of Menander owned by that Dioscorus of
whose own attempts upon the Muse his editor wrote 'At no
moment has he any real control of thought, diction, grammar,
metre, or meaning'. Thanks to this and other smaller papyri
Menander is no longer merely a source of indiscriminate
apophthegms but is seen as a playwright capable of dramatic
power and delicate characterization. Among the other dis-
coveries notable in extent and in intrinsic merit are those of
the odes and dithyrambs of Bacchylides, a poet all but unknown
before, the Athenian Constitution of Aristotle, the Ichneutae of
Sophocles (the only satyric drama which we have from his hand),
the Hellenic a Oxyrynchia, probably from the hand of Ephorus,
and several manuscripts of the early lyric poets and of Calli-
machus. The latter, as is proper for a poet whose home was
Alexandria, has come into his own with the discovery of con-
siderable parts of the Iambi and Aiiia, types of his work of